Tarrant County College encourages its students to participate in clubs and organizations to build relationships and a sense of community. The College has a number of student organizations to choose from, ranging from academic to social to service groups.
At TCC Northeast, the COOL (Cultures of Other Languages) Club provides students an opportunity to practice English skills, build relationships with the community, and develop self-advocacy and leadership skills for English language learners (ELLs) at various levels and anyone else interested in building relationships with them.
Over the summer, several members of the COOL Club got together on Fridays to create a friendship quilt. Advisor Wendi Crandell says, “We come together to celebrate stories from around the world. The quilt represents our community: different patterns, colors and dreams stitched together with friendship and hope. Quilts are wonderful storytellers if we listen with our hearts and minds.” Crandell says COOL Club’s hospitality is important. “Our club’s message is ‘Everyone is welcome here. Everyone belongs.’’’
According to Maria di Rita Bencomo, one of the quilters, “The inspiration for this quilt was to share our time with others and make friends.”
Crandell says the project began with a question asked by Janelle Cardenas, who serves as a coordinator for the English Language Learning Program (ELLP). “We have all these beautiful ELLP T-shirts left. What should we do with them?”
Crandell’s answer? “Let’s make a quilt!”
Seven quilters, ranging from beginner to experienced, designed and sewed the front of the quilt. The back of the quilt is interactive. “We’re inviting community members to hang ornaments representing their cultures, languages, or home countries,” said Crandell. “For example, club member Claudia Espinoza cross-stitched a design to represent Mexico. ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor Taghreed Mero crocheted the centerpiece on the back.”
Mayra Mancera said Crandell was her main source of inspiration, “who, with her initiative and enthusiasm, drove the project. Belonging to a group where we all share the same interests, abilities and dreams, any activity becomes easy and constructive,” she said. ‘This is what happened when our small idea blossomed into a great project. We dedicated ourselves to sewing the quilt, but there were also other people that passed by and brought a dash of enthusiasm and great conversations.”
Abbenie Scholz agrees. “The quilt was made colorful with the purpose of attracting as many people as possible to our club booth during Club Rush days, but it also represents the many colorful cultures that COOL Club stands for.”
Rocio Arnett Sanchez-Andalon says the “quilt is a work of love and cultural celebration. Every stitch, every carefully chosen fabric, and every meticulously embroidered detail tells a story.”
An additional benefit for the ladies who worked together on this quilt according to Sanchez-Andalon is the opportunity to practice English that “goes beyond traditional language classes. It’s a practical approach where I could engage in conversations while learning the art of quilting.” She added, “Moreover, practicing English in the sewing group fostered a sense of community and friendship.”
Mancera concurs with the sense of community. “What I liked most about this project was not only belonging to a group; it was also creating something with skills from my favorite hobbies with company and camaraderie, sharing ideas, likes, feelings, and always putting in love. Belonging is making a community, and I am happy to be a part of such a great community like TCC.”